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Pressure on Heathcare and Everyday Life in Gaza

It is a blessing that Gaza has to-date only seen 27 positive cases of COVID-19. For once the restrictions on travel into and out of Gaza has been a benefit, particularly as the healthcare provision within Gaza are already at a critical level with daily power outages and severe shortages of medical supplies. In a country that is overcrowded and where there is devastating poverty and religious conflict, the Ahli Arab Hospital, owened and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has been described as a beacon of hope. It is the oldest hospital in Gaza, the only Christian hospital and also the only hospital that does not station an armed guard at its gate.

Opening of the Mammogram unit
Suhaila Tarazi alongside Archbishop Suhail Dawani at the opening of the mammogram centre in 2018

Speaking at an online event organised by the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ), Suhaila Tarazi explained that life is difficult in Gaza, with infrastructure damaged by war, 54% unemployment, electrical outages from 10 to 14 hours a day, and shortages of all kinds because Gaza’s border is controlled by Israel (or by Egypt, in the south). 

“A child of 14 years has witnessed three wars.”

“According to the UN, 365,000 children are suffering from psychosocial problems.”

However, whilst there has only been one tragic death from COVID-19, many patients are dying from cancer as they await permission to leave to received treatment at a hospital outside the Gaza border in Tel Aviv or Istanbul, as the Ahli Arab Hospital does not have the radiation theraply machines and do no have the chemotherapy medicine.

Suhaila confirmed that they are looking to establish a radiation therapy unit in the hospital, an initiative that is strongly supported by Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the head of the Diocese of Jerusalem. This would be the next major step in the fight against cancer already ongoing in the Ahli Arab Hospital. 

 

Original article by By Kirk Petersen in The Living Church